Ned Roberts “Outside My Mind” (Aveline, 2017)

“Outside My Mind” is the follow-up album to 2014’s eponymous debut from London based folk artist Ned Roberts – and it’s a confident and well-produced recording. In fact, in many ways this album belongs almost as much to producer and multi-instrumentalist Luther Russell as to Roberts himself, with Russell providing drums, electric guitar, piano and backing vocals as well as studio guidance. But it is Ned Roberts’ album and it’s a strong one. Ned has a great voice, slightly reminiscent of Nick Drake but also with a little James Taylor in his tone – no bad thing for a singer-songwriter. He’s also a fine guitar player in the folk finger picking style and his songs, pulled together over a three year period for this recording, are very listenable indeed.  Continue reading “Ned Roberts “Outside My Mind” (Aveline, 2017)”

Jason Isbell previews album with new track – Listen

A nice way to go into the weekend and you can squeeze your red nose (or something else, your choice) while listening to it – Rolling Stone Country reports: “”Last year was a son of a bitch,” Jason Isbell hollers in “Hope the High Road,” the first release from this summer’s The Nashville Sound. A guitar-charged tribute to those feeling disenchanted by today’s divisive politics and social issues, the song fires twin blasts of electrified empathy and resolute optimism. Isbell, an outspoken liberal who isn’t afraid to get political on Twitter, isn’t ready to make peace with his aggressors. Instead, he’s taking the high road, refusing to be bullied into despair.  Continue reading “Jason Isbell previews album with new track – Listen”

Interview: Aimee Mann

If Stewart Lee is the comedian’s comedian, then Aimee Mann is the songwriter’s songwriter. The Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning singer is a hugely observant student of human behaviour, drawing not just on her own experiences to form the characters in the songs but tales told by friends, and her new album ‘Mental Illness’ (which you can now stream in its entirety courtesy of NPR music) shows off her rich, incisive and wry melancholia in an almost all-acoustic format,  with a “finger-picky” style inspired by some of her favourite 60’s and 70’s folk-rock records, augmented by strings arranged by her longtime producer, Paul Bryan. Mark Whitfield spoke to her about the new record, her feelings about the new era in US politics and what she thought about the ending of Mad Men.  Continue reading “Interview: Aimee Mann”

John Murry announces UK dates, new album

John Murry was raised in Tupelo, Mississippi and had a bit of a hairy time in life as a younger man but his journey led him to his last album “The Graceless Age” which was praised by Q magazine as “intensely beautiful…  Like Father John Misty, Mark Lanegan and Josh T Pearson rolled into one really broken dream.” Don’t you hate it when dreams break? Anyway he’s back with a new album “A Short History of Decay” which will be out on 14th July on TV Records, and in the meantime he’ll be playing a handful of UK shows in April, previewing songs from the record.  Here’s those dates, along with the gorgeous opening track from the new album. Continue reading “John Murry announces UK dates, new album”

Sweet Gum Tree “Sustain The Illusion” (Dreamy Bird Records 2017)

In the 1980’s alongside, all of the hardcore, reggae and The Fall, John Peel occasionally championed some bands that didn’t quite fit; they were self-consciously ‘arty’ and most of them would end up on 4AD records or just fade into obscurity – they fell somewhere between The Wild Swans and Swans Way. SGT have a grand(iose) sweep and a sound that is steeped in the 1980’s the synthesiser sounds and the ability to embrace the embellishments without any self-consciousness. Sometimes it is possible to put your finger on exactly the precedents. On Someday there a definite whiff of the Blow Monkeys, both in the vocals and the structure of the song; elsewhere the influence is filtered and fully absorbed, they leak out like a dark root showing in a head of blonde hair, there are a few phrases of Rollercoaster where I can almost feel Smash Hits in my hands. Continue reading “Sweet Gum Tree “Sustain The Illusion” (Dreamy Bird Records 2017)”

Andrew Combs “Canyons Of My Mind” (Loose Records 2017)

Sometimes Americana is a fickle genre; it spins off down blind alleys and one way streets in all kinds of maverick directions. Other times it shoots straight from the hip. You may have read that compelling article we poached (I mean borrowed) from Guidelive.com several days back concerning its nature. In case it passed you by, it delves into the age-old question of the pigeon hole. To get back to the matter in hand, Dallas singer songwriter Andrew Combs has released his third album which is a little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit pop but quintessentially all American in sound and suggestion. Continue reading “Andrew Combs “Canyons Of My Mind” (Loose Records 2017)”

Son of the Velvet Rat “Dorado” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2017)

It would be the understatement of the year to describe the torn and ragged instrument that is Georg Altziebler’s throat as “cracked” or “whisky scarred”. It’s a hollow rattling thing that speaks of dry deserts and lonesome travellers. Dark as the shadows in a Sergio Leone movie, dust covered, careworn and heartbroken. And just as it took an Italian film maker to reinvent and renew the Western as a genre, Son of the velvet rat (Georg and wife Helke) have so far made their music in their homeland of Austria whilst still sounding as if they have recorded in a small studio behind a shack somewhere out in the Californian desert. Continue reading “Son of the Velvet Rat “Dorado” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2017)”